California Gov. Gavin Newsom’s warning Thursday that intensive care unit beds are filling up is resonating heavily in the South Bay.
Santa Clara County public health officials say recent spikes in COVID-19 cases have them on the brink of the new stay-home order being triggered. The new order will be triggered if a region’s intensive care unit bed capacity drops below 15%.
The county already has some hospitals well over 90% ICU capacity. Every hospital has submitted a surge plan for how to make more room.
“So this would include bringing beds into service that normally aren’t in service. It may perhaps include converting some non-clinical areas into clinical areas,” Emergency Operations Center Health Care Preparedness Director Ahmad Kamal said.
In San Jose, the Amberwood Gardens nursing care facility has had 151 positive cases — 81 residents and 70 staff. At the Boccardo Reception Center, a homeless shelter, there have been 60 cases in just over a week.
“When the amount of COVID rises in our community, you’re going to get more people landing in the ICU and you’re going to get more outbreaks in congregate settings,” Dr. George Han, Deputy Public Health Officer for the county, said.
Officials say setting up outside surge facilities as they did at the start of the pandemic will be more difficult due to a lack of staffing.
“Nursing staff are stretched thin and are being deployed all over the country, so we are very concerned of a long-term staffing crunch,” Kamal said.
For now, hospitals continue to create ICU space, including by postponing non-emergency surgeries.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.